Explosives Expert Rates Unrealistic Movie Explosions | How Real Is It?

Explosives Expert Rates Unrealistic Movie Explosions | How Real Is It?

We’ve all seen action stars walk away from ridiculous explosions in movies. Here, Columbia University explosives engineer Rodger Cornell rates 10 movie explosion scenes based on how realistic they are. We look at scenes from action and adventure movies like “Indiana Jones,” “Transformers,” “Django Unchained,” “X-Men,” “The Dark Knight,” “Desperado,” and more. How plausible are these scenes in real life? Are they scientifically accurate? Let’s find out.

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Explosives Expert Rates Unrealistic Movie Explosions | How Real Is It?


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  1. AMazing video!

    I must admit I hate the old Blow something up, walk towards the camera slowly cliché on films. It got old rather fast and still shocked when I see it used in modern films.

  2. Probably my favourite explosions are in the real RoboCop. Not necessarily because of their realism, but because of the way the elements line up with each other. The "Cobra assault cannon" is basically a .50 calibre sniper rifle that you can find in the real world (if I am not mistaken, Schoolboy uses it in the fourth Rambo film). Replace the normal bullet with something high-explosive tipped, and it probably could do what it does to a car. A whole shop… mmmmm maybe not so much. The part that gives away how comic-book that part of the film is is that every time they fire it, they fire from the hip. The only person who fires that weapon anywhere approaching realistically is Lewis, who is wounded and lying on the ground, thus mounting it atop a lump of mud. Everyone else in the film who uses it fires from the hip. I imagine the recoil from firing that thing from the hip would knock you back into the Stone Age.

  3. Um, sorry to be harsh on thee so called "expert" and full disclosure, I am 100% Transformers and Michael Bay fanboi, but clearly our "expert" didn't do his research in that Michael Bay in general I believe has/had (for the transformers Franchise) a relationship with the US Military to the point where a lot of the action scenes where US military equipment and vehicles were shown were actually real life, and also to the point when explosive special effect would have been demonstrated on how it worked and Michael Bay and special effects team replicated it, I know I have the blu ray box set. Fake Expert.

  4. The one air strike on the house in "Generation Kill" is the BEST explosion I've ever seen, hardly any initial flash of the HE, an excellent concussive wave and dust everywhere afterward. I was an Army Ordnance officer so I saw my fair share of explosions. And BTW, hand grenades blow up in a purple/brownish cloud. You don't see the shrapnel in the air. I've never seen a flash on one, even the quick HE flash you sometimes do see with legit explosives. Once got too close to an aerial bomb detonation which ripped off the soft tops of the humvee near us and cracked some of its glass and even then, it felt like a real punch to the guts afterward. Any explosion that'd launch you into the air would probably cause internal injuries to your colon and lungs and kill you pretty quick. But other than fireball explosions and ones way too close to people that would kill them in real life, is the slow-moving shock wave ones you could outrace in a car. If you have a massive one (like the Pepcon explosion in Utah years ago), you can see it coming, otherwise it's come and gone before you could even react to it